« ElőzőTovább »
expected as among children that are older and better trained ; and that the very young infants, when they come at first, are uneasy in the restraints of the school, and not all at once brought into its discipline : but this only requires additional patience in the teachers, and some grains of allowance in the visitors, and the operation of a little time to bring the new-comers into order : for the principle of imitation is so powerful in the youngest minds, that they easily fall into the exercises of the rest ; and, almost without knowing it, learn much useful knowledge, and acquire habits of order and obedience. Indeed, the system of instruction in these schools is so judiciously adapted to the capacity and feelings of infants, that they soon and insensibly acquire knowledge : their attention is constantly excited and kept up, by incessant motion, to a tune of their hands, and feet, and voices : they repeat every thing after the master, all together, and all in tune: some children of superior attainments are made models or monitors to the rest, and serve as the medium of communication between the master and the children ; and thus the ease of the master and the comfort of the child are greatly promoted. It may be that some child is inattentive to his part, or does not repeat correctly, but the master and the monitors, and the great body of the children, go on in order, and with correctness; and the endless repetition of the same thing, soon, and indelibly, fixes it on the memory.
One most important result of all this is, that the child cannot associate with his lessons the idea of a task, or of a punishment : for, in truth, the whole affords him a pleasure of the highest kind. The incessant motion and stir which pervade the school occupy the restless activity of his mind ; and the subjects of instruction, being varied as much as possible, and simple and intelligible, cannot fail to interest him.
It by no means follows, from this statement, that these instructions must be of a trifling nature, or of trivial importance; far from it: for they consist of the names and powers of the alphabet, the names and the uses of numbers in the simpler rules of arithmetic, the names and order of the days and months of the year, the number and meaning of the ten commandments that form the basis and outline of moral obligation, the names and uses of the general elements of nature, and of the most useful substances and animals connected with the enjoyments and comforts of human life. Hymns, also, expressive of the simpler and more important truths of religion, are repeated, said, or sung by the children, with an eagerness and delight which leave no doubt of their being partially felt and understood.
Undoubtedly, not a little of what is thus learned is only learned by rote, without its meaning being perceived, or its impression felt: and the same may be said of instruction in all schools, and of no small portion of what forms the subject of the Christian ministry. But there is reason to conclude that the capacity of infants to receive moral and religious instruction is, in general, greatly underrated, and that infants often perceive and feel much more than they can express. And if it were not so, still it is of the very highest importance that elements of thought and feeling should be treasured up in their memory, as materials for the exercise of their minds as their powers become gradually developed and matured. It is impossible to imagine or express the advantage thence derived by the infant mind : nor can we see reason to doubt, either from the nature of the case, or from the word of God, that, in numerous instances, these babes and sucklings may be thus “ born again of the incorruptible seed” of the word, -sanctified, as it were, from their birth,--and grow up into life with their minds imbued and seasoned with divine truth : the entrance of evil into their hearts anticipated ; while their opening powers are all consecrated by a holy bias to the love and service of God.
In what degree it has been found possible to attain these ends, they only can adequately comprehend, who have seen in actual operation, the system which it is now proposed to extend more widely.
If the period of mere infancy be less fitted, comparatively speaking, for intellectual progress, yet curiosity is even then sufficiently active to enable the superintendent of such an establishment, to convey much useful knowledge to his pupils, by means which are calculated to call forth, without oppressing their faculties. No parent, for example, can be ignorant of the effect produced by pictures, whether of animate or inanimate objects, in engaging the attention, and developing the faculties, even of very young children. And this is only one of the many
modes by which ideas may be communicated to infants, without the necessity of resorting to any harsh expedients, or of imposing any strain on their faculties.
But these first years of life are still more valuable, with a view to the formation of the temper and moral character of the future man. No doubt can be entertained of the susceptibility of right impressions which belongs to the earliest age, or of the unhappy permanence of those vicious or selfish propensities, and of those peevish or violent tempers which are then too often contracted ; and which, when suffered to expand, lead in after life to domestic misery,—to profligacy,--and to crime.
To counteract such propensities, and to prevent the growth of such tempers, is the prime object of the proposed plan ; and it is, with a view to this object, that the whole frame and discipline of infant schools ought to be regulated.
The incidental acquisition of useful knowledge, which cannot fail to accompany this course of early tuition, though in itself a circumstance of no mean value, is but of small account, in comparison with that moral culture, with those habits of self-government, and with those feelings of mutual kindness which form the characteristic tendencies, and indeed the grand recommendation of the whole system.
It is by instilling into the infant mind the principles of religion, that the effects even of the most perfect discipline can be rendered permanent, and that those higher ends can be secured for which man is formed, and which infinately transcend in importance, all the temporal advantages, great as they are, to be derived from education. To produce, therefore, in the minds of the children, feelings of reverence and gratitude towards their Creator and Redeemer, to impress upon them a sense of their moral responsibility, to convey to them a knowledge of the leading truths of revealed religion, and to familiarize them with the bright examples of piety and benevolence which the Scriptures furnish, ought to form the leading features of the system of instruction pursued in these infant schools.
THE PLAN, therefore is, in the first place, to provide an airy and spacious apartment, with a dry, and if possible, a large play ground, attached to it, where, under the eye of a properly selected master and mistress, these infants may pass the hours during which their parents are at work; and in the second place, to render this receptacle, not a place of tiresome restraint and confinement, but a school for the acquisition of habits of cleanliness and decorum, of cheerful and ready subordination, of courtesy, kindness and forbearance, and of abstinence from every thing impure or profane ; a scene, in short, at once of activity and amusement, of intellectual improvement and moral discipline.
The Qualifications of Masters and Mistresses.
It becomes obviously a matter of the very highest importance to select superintendents for these schools who have learnt to govern their own tempers ; who unite firmness and decision of character with mildness, patience, forbearance, and kindness of disposition ; who are not likely to be moved, either to vehemence, or to peevishness, sharpness, or ill-humour by the waywardness of the children, or by the various difficulties of their task; — whose tone and manner, as well as feelings, shall be uniformly those of parental affection; and who shall be disposed, from a sense of duty, to exercise a constant vigilance in marking and gently counteracting every instance the children may exhibit of insubordination or disobedience towards the teachers, or of fretfulness, selfishness, unkindness, or violence in their intercourse with each other, and especially in their hours of play, which, at that age, must naturally occupy the largest portion of their time.
The qualities here stated to be requisite in the masters and mistresses may deter many benevolent persons from attempting to institute infant schools, under an apprehension that it may prove extremely difficult, if not impossible, to procure suitable instruments. The past experience of the committee tends to obviate this ground of hesitation and discouragement. Hitherto individuals have easily been engaged to fill these important offices, whose conduct has been perfectly satisfactory; and the committee see no reason to despair of finding an increasing supply of such superintendents proportioned to the demand for them, which may be created by the wider diffusion of similar institutions.
ADDRESS or Notice, to be circulated in the neighbourhood in which
an Infants' School is about to be opened. This school is intended as an assylum for the children of the poor before the age at which they are capable of engaging in any profitable employment, or at which they may be received into the other schools.
It is well known that children of this age generally prove, during the working hours of the day, a heavy incumbrance on parents, who are obliged to toil hard for subsistence. One object of this shool is to lighten the pressure of this inconvenience, and to leave the parents, particularly the mother, more fully at liberty to pursue some gainful occupation for the common benefit of the family. With respect to the children, the objects proposed in the establishment of this school are,
the cultivation of their morals,—the preservation of their health,—the promotion of mutual affection, social harmony, personal cleanliness, becoming manners, due subordination, and the giving to them that instruction of which their years are capable.
The advantage of stimulating the labouring classes to exertion, and of directing and assisting their efforts, instead of making those efforts for them, is now beginning to be understood, and it is not therefore intended that the school should be entirely gratuitous. A small weekly payment must be made by each child every monday morning, and for that it will be taken care of from nine in the morning, till four in the evening ; the parents sending its dinner with it, or taking it home for that purpose in the middle of the day. It is proposed to admit children from two to six years of age, on their parents paying 2d. for each child.
Application, for the admission of children, must be made at the school room, on Monday mornings only, between the hours of ten and eleven. Rules to be observed by the Parents of the Children admitted into the
Infants' School. 1. Parents are to send their children clean washed, with their hair cut short and combed, and their clothes well mended, by nine o'clock in the morning, to remain till twelve ; and by one o'clock in the afternoon, to remain till four.
2. No child will be admitted into the school after half-past nine in the morning, or half-past one in the afternoon.
3. Parents may send their children's dinner with them in the morning so that the children may be taken care of the whole of the day to enable the mother to go out to work.
4. If any child be absent from school for two days, and no satisfactory reason be assigned to the master or mistress for such absence, that child shall not be permitted to return to the school again.
5. No child will be permitted to attend the school who has the ringworm, measles, small-pox, or any other infectious disorder.
6. No child will be admitted into the school under two years of age, nor above six.
7. The parents are to pay two-pence for each child, every Monday morning : the two-pence to be paid in advance.
*** It is hoped that parents will see their own interest as well as that of their children in strictly observing these rules. No child will be admitted with necklaces, ear-rings, or other ornaments.
Card of admission. Infants' School.
Age of the Child Recommended by me, this day of- 18– Signed Subscriber.
Register of Admission.
Name of Child. Residence.
Class. Parents' Name.
Alphabetical Weekly Register, and Cash Book, for a Quarter.
Apparatus for an Infunts' School. Seats all round the school-room nine inches from the ground, and nine inches wide—sixteen inches of deal board, nailed on the walls, for backs,—PEGS for caps and bonnets.
GALLERY for children, nine inches from floor for the first seat, (the others rising seven inches), and fourteen inches wide-as many rows of seats as will accommodate all the children in the school- the gallery to be divided down the middle by a hand-rail, the boys sitting on one side, the girls on the other,-a foot should be allowed for each child. TEACHER'S DESK, such as is used in national schools.
Stools for teachers and monitors. A CLOCK_WHISTLE-HAND-BELL -NUMERAL frame-ROSTRUM-SLATES and PENCIL-POINTERS, about eighteen inches long, for monitors when teaching lessons-FRAME and BALLS—READING and PICTURE lessons, on wood or mill-board—SCRIPTURE TEXTS-LESSONS, may be obtained from the various infants' school depôts, national, infants', and Lancasterian schools. Toys, wheelbarrows, cubes of wood, 4 inches by 2, and so thick that four will make a square.